Do you love fig trees and the calm ambiance they bring into your living space? Or would you like to improve the air quality and humidity within your home? If so, fig trees are the best choice to plant. It’s a great indoor plant that yields delicious edible fruits. If you’re sold on this idea, here’s how you can grow these fruit trees in containers indoors.
Fig Tree Basics
Before planting a fig tree, here’s a quick guide on what you should know about the indoor tree.
It’s a Fruit Tree: Figs are believed to have originated from Western Asia before they were cultivated in the Mediterranean. Hence, you can find them in a variety of dishes around the area. Its ripe fruits can be eaten raw.
Method of Propagation: Fig trees can be asexually propagated from cuttings or sexually grown from seeds. However, there are higher chances of success when it is propagated from cuttings.
Planting Season: The fruit tree is best planted when dormant. For cooler climates, this will be during spring. For warmer temperatures, the late winter months are preferable.
Planting Soil: Ensure that the fig tree is planted in any soil rich in organic matter. Once roots are planted deep in several inches of soil that retains moisture yet drains freely, you’ll be guaranteed great root growth. In addition, well-draining soil will ensure that the plant’s roots aren’t exposed to excess water that could cause root rot.
Exposure to Sunlight: Indoor fig trees are best planted in regions where the entire plant has enough sunlight per day. The best sunny spot to ensure this happens will be right in front of a window.
Plant Varieties: There are varieties of fig trees to choose from. Some bear fruits, and others don’t. Dwarf varieties are great for planting indoors because they only grow a few feet tall. The common fig tree variety (Ficus Carica) bears fruit. However, the fiddle-leaf fig trees do not bear fruit.
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Now that you’ve decided to grow a fig tree indoors, you’d have to choose the suitable planter to grow it in. Of course, your first thoughts may be about how you could make it rhyme with your existing decor; however, here are the three factors you need to consider before any views of decor come in:
- Drainage holes
The secret to choosing the right size of planting pots is selecting one that is at least double the size of the root ball of your fig tree. This way, the roots get to spread as the plant develops. However, if you choose a too big pot, your plant will have a higher chance of getting root rot. A common symptom of root rot is the brown spots visible on the leaves.
Let me explain. The larger the pot, the longer the time it takes for the soil to dry up. Therefore, keeping the soil moist for long periods enhances your fig tree’s susceptibility to root rot formation.
On the other hand, planting in a pot that is too small could lead to the stunted growth of your fig tree. It could even make it root-bound. It also increases the tendency of the pot typing over because of its instability. Finally, you’d have to water the plant more frequently because the soil keeps drying up too fast.
All in all, keep in mind that you’ll have to keep changing the size of the pot depending on how fast the plant grows.
Planting pots are often made of either clay or plastic. Plastic planting pots are usually lightweight and can be hung or mounted on wall surfaces. Clay pots, however, are denser, making them more suited for the ground.
Plastic pots are ideally better for small fig tree sizes. For instance, if you’re planting a bonsai fig tree variety, you can use a plastic pot. Or, for a fig tree in its early stages of development, plastic planting containers will do. What’s more, plastic tends to retain moisture quickly and is highly inexpensive.
Clay or Terracotta pots are usually porous and do not retain moisture as much as plastic containers do. It is well aerated and slightly costly.
If you’re wondering what designs plastic or clay pots are available in, don’t worry. They come in endless colorful and patterned designs.
Fig trees, like most houseplants, hardly survive in standing water. Therefore, when planting, it’s better to keep the soil moist rather than soggy. Any planting pot used for planting fig trees indoors needs to have drainage holes at its bottom. These holes let out water and allow air in.
If you’re still considering decor at this stage, here’s how you can have the best of both worlds. First, use the double potting method. To do this, use two containers, the cachepot and the practical planting pot made of either clay or plastic. The practical pot will have drainage holes, and the cache pot (aka the pretty container) will house the practical pot.
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The Best Types of Figs to Grow Indoors
As discussed in the basics section, fig-trees need to be planted when they are fully dormant. This will be during the spring season for colder climates, while it’ll be during winter for warmer climates.
Of all the varieties of fig trees, the best indoor fig tree for planting is the dwarf variety Ficus Carica Petite Negra aka, the common fig tree. This is because they grow petite, as the name implies, at about 4 to 8 feet tall. Also, during the winter, it still retains its leaves. Finally, it bears fruit even when it is only about a foot tall.
Figs are ideally grown in slightly acidic soils that have a pH ranging between 6.0 to 6.5. Make a soil mix consisting of fifty percent potting soil and 50 percent aged manure and aged mushroom compost composition. Remember that when choosing planters, sizing is critical. It should at least be double the size of the root ball of your fig tree.
Growing from Seed
Not a lot of fig varieties are seed-bearing, but the Ficus Carica is seed-bearing. So here’s how you can grow it from its seed. First, get some ripe Ficus Carica fruits and soak them in a bowl of clean and fresh water for a couple of days to soften them.
This makes it easy to break open the fruit with your fingers to extract the seeds. Mix in the pulp and seeds with the water. The pulp will float to the surface, leaving the viable seeds to sink. Pour the mixture into a fine-meshed strainer to get the seeds and then leave them to dry. Spread them on a newspaper and let it air dry.
Prepare the planting soil as mentioned above. Next, mix the seeds with a half cup of horticultural sand and spread them evenly across the planter’s surface filled with soil. Finally, ensure that the seeds are properly cared for by watering them and placing them in a strategic location where they’ll be sure to get four to eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
With this level of care, you should begin to see new shoots form in six to ten days.
Propagating Fiddle-Leaf Fig Trees From Stem Cuttings
To illustrate how you could grow figs in containers from stem cuttings, I’ll be using the popular household variety, the fiddle leaf fig tree, as a case study. This is because fiddle-leaf figs do not bear fruit. Therefore, they do not bear seeds. To propagate, you’ll need a pair of sharp shears, clean water, and a vase.
To get your stem cuttings:
1. Cut a long stem off the host tree that’s about 12 to 16 inches.
2. Remove all its leaves except one.
3. Place in the vase filled with clean water and leave it for a few weeks in a location having access to bright indirect light.
Remember to change the water once it gets cloudy. As the weeks pass by, you’ll notice some white bumps forming. Eventually, roots will develop from those spots. Once the roots are about 2 inches long, replant them in a container filled with soil as described above. Keep watching as your fiddle-leaf fig trees develop.
Gently loosen the root ball of your fig tree and plant not too deep within the soil. A major tip to ensure that it isn’t planted deeply is to ensure that its topmost roots align with the soil line. Then, you need to water the soil thoroughly by ensuring water gets into all the air pockets. So there you have it, your newly potted fig tree.
When fertilizing fig trees, please do not pour them into the planting hole—fertilizers, whether organic or inorganic, should only be applied at the correct time. The proper time will be once a month for young plants to develop leaves. However, fertilization should be stopped before August.
When choosing fertilizers for fig trees, you could opt for either an organic or chemical make. Regardless of which type you choose, it must have the following constituents; manganese, molybdenum, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and boron. These micronutrients are essential for the growth of fig plants. The only point to note is that the application rate of an organic fertilizer may differ from that of chemical fertilizer.
For instance, you may need to apply one cup of 10-10-10 chemical fertilizer with minerals to a fig tree once every year. In contrast, the application rate for an organic tomato fertilizer can be as many as 6 cups per year.
As your fig tree grows, you’ll constantly have to prune it. Pruning a fig tree, especially when young, helps you train it to grow upwards and outwards. This helps them retain their vigor and yield more fruit. However, it should be noted that pruning must only be carried out during the dormant season.
When pruning a young fig tree, you’ll have to cut about 30 inches off the top of the tree to generate shoots that’ll form the scaffold limb. Next, select a few scaffold branches, ensuring that they are adequately spaced from one another, and trim off the excess branches on the trunk.
For mature trees, pruning needs to be done to encourage new growth in branches to enable them to retain their thickness and shape. You’ll have to remove dead and diseased branches from the dormant trees but take note of freeze-damaged branches as they’ll have to be removed when new shoots develop during spring.
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Young container figs can be killed at temperatures below 25F, mainly dormant trees. Therefore, it is best to offer some winter protection where applicable. First, add a layer of mulch to the soil surface, then surround it with a wire cage. Finally, wrap the cage with plastic.
Be careful not to remove frost-damaged leaves. They should only be removed during spring when new shoots appear.
Why do the leaves of a fig tree wither (early summer)?
During the early summer season, the rate of evaporation of moisture in the soil increases. This leaves the soil dry and could cause the leaves of the tree to wither. Simply water regularly to ensure that your plant doesn’t wither.
Can I dig up a fig sapling in my backyard to keep?
Yes, you can transplant and repot a fig sapling from your backyard to save it. First, gently loosen its roots and plant not too deep within the soil. Then, you need to water the soil thoroughly by ensuring water gets into all the air pockets.
Fig trees are not demanding plants. With the proper plant maintenance, you’ll be sure to grow a healthy, perfect plant.
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